April 9, 2014

The Savagery Against Christians Continues: Father Frans Van der Lugt; Murdered for Loving His Neighbor

Father Frans Van der Lugt: April 10. 1938---April 7, 2014
Murdered for Loving Jesus and Loving his neighbor
by Larry Peterson

Monday, April 7, 2014, was probably just another day for most of us.  Creatures of habit, we got up and, more than likely, went through the same repetitive routine from brushing our teeth, showering, putting the coffee on, getting dressed and doing the things we do in what ever order that is unique to each of us.  Then we lived the rest of  our day doing the same usual things we always do.  Of course there were those who did not have an ordinary, mundane day.  Some would get up and never make it to the next day.  Father Frans Van der Lugt, 75,  was one of them.  And he did not die due to age or illness.  He was brutally beaten and then shot to death with two bullets to the head. Why?  Because he loved Jesus and was  doing what Jesus asked of His followers; he had been loving his neighbors.

Father Frans had lived in Syria for 50 years.  In fact, he had been "loving his neighbors" very close to where Jesus actually lived and died and rose again.  A Jesuit priest, he had devoted his life to helping those in need especially the "young people with mental health problems".  He never asked for anything for himself  just for the Christians and Muslims he was trying to assist with food and medicine.  His Al-Ard Center, a community center and farm he started in 1980, was aimed to foster dialog between people of different faiths. Consequently, there were many in Syria who loved this man, this follower of the Christ.  It followed that there were also those who hated him.

In February, Father Van der Lugt appealed to the people of the world via YouTube for help for the people in Homs, the city where his AL-Ard Center was located.  His people were suffering from hunger and mental anguish resulting from the constant shelling and bombing.   The United Nations mediated a truce and food and water were brought in. Then 1400 people were allowed to leave. A city which once had a  Christian population of over 60,000 was now down to a few dozen. The people remaining wanted Father Frans to leave. He refused. He had said, "The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties."

On Monday, April 7, as most of us were doing our 'regular' thing, unidentified assailants stormed into Father Frans monastery where he was tending to the few Christians left in the city.  The 75-year old priest was savagely beaten by masked cowards before being executed with two bullets to his head.  Father Frans Van der Lugt has now joined the ranks of martyred Catholic/Christians and I have no doubt that one day he will be declared a saint.  We pray for the soul of good Father Frans and ask him to pray for all of us.

 reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frans_van_der_Lugt



April 2, 2014

Killing & Persecuting Christians & Jews: The Evil of the Centuries Continues Unchecked

Jozef & Viktoria Ulma; Polish Catholics
Executed by the Nazis on March 24, 1944
Crime: Hiding a Jewish family
by Larry Peterson

Look at the picture of the people to the right.  There names are Jozef & Viktoria  Ulma.  Polish Catholics, they gave their lives so that their Jewish neighbors might live.  It happened 70 years ago and nothing has changed.  It is the year 2014 and Nazi goon squads, empowered by the "law" as defined by the Final Solution, are no longer around.  But their heirs apparent live and kill to this very day.  North Korea, the number one nation for Christian persecution, publicly executed  80 people last November  for 'possessing' Bibles.  Yes...Bibles. In that demonically controlled country alone  it is estimated that close to 70,000 followers of Jesus are suffering in prison camps for crimes such as going to church, sharing their faith or owning a Bible.  Where is the world's outrage and condemnation?

Feeding the Christians to ferocious, flesh-eating lions and tigers inside the Colosseum in ancient Rome was done for 'entertainment'.  Like a modern day Sunday football game packed with screaming fans, thousands upon thousands of shrieking spectators packed the seats and aisles inside the Colosseum as young men, women and even children were torn apart for the pleasure of the emperor and the citizens.  This inhumane and vicious bloodlusting  has been followed by centuries of Christian persecution.  Today it has mushroomed into a horrendous and bloody human rights crisis.  History has been witness to the wholesale slaughter of God loving people, both Christians and Jews.  Loving God has proven to be a dangerous and deadly love affair for many.

Joe Ulma was a librarian, a photographer, an experienced fruit grower and a  bee-keeper.  He was very active in his town of Markowa and was involved with the Catholic Youth Organization.  He was 12 years older than his wife, Viktoria, who was a homemaker and mom to their six children: Stanislaw, age 8,  Barbara, age 7,  Vladyslaw, age 6,  Franciszek, age 4,  Antoni, age 3, and Maria, age 2. In addition, Viktoria was pregnant with their seventh child and was almost full term.

During the summer of 1942 the Nazi military police began deporting Jewish families from Markowa to the Nazi death camps as part of the Final Solution.  The only way Jews in Markowa could survive was for them to be taken in and hidden by non-Jewish Polish citizens.  The Ulmas took eight Jews into their home.  They knew what the penalty would be if they were found out but, being devout Catholics, they were not about to turn their backs on their Jewish neighbors.  During the darkness of night the Szall family, which included  dad, mom, and four kids plus two sisters from the Goldman family, were snuck into the Ulma house and hidden in the attic.  Somehow they managed to stay in hiding for one and a half years.

Early on the morning of March 24, 1944,  Lt. Eilert Dieken led his band of German soldiers to the Ulma house and surrounded it. They had been informed that the Szall family had been hiding there. They promptly caught all eight of the Jewish people which included two adults and six children. The prisoners were brought outside and several witnesses were gathered to act as observers.  Each of the eight was summarily shot in the back of the head.  Then Lt. Dieken ordered the Ulmas outside. He had the Ulma children lined up and made them watch as their dad and pregnant mom were shot to death right in front of them. The children began screaming so 23-year old Joseph Kokott got permission from Dieken to quiet them.  He shot three of them while his fellow executioners, Michael Dziewulski and Erich Wilde, shot the rest.  In a matter of minutes the German squad had executed  17 people.  The 17th person was Viktoria's seventh child.  It was discovered upon exhumation to bury them in a cemetery that the child was almost born as Viktoria lay dead in the grave pit.  What evil there is in the hearts of so many.

I include the Ulma family in this essay because we always discuss the people who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, brutalized and killed for their religious beliefs in terms of hundreds and/or thousands; and in the case of the Holocaust, many millions.  We tend to lose sight of the individuality of each of those people.  The Ulmas were no different than the rest of us. And, like the Ulmas, each and every one of those who has suffered  the fear and agony of the religiously defiled, was an  individual person with feelings, hopes and dreams. They had family and friends whom they loved,  they laughed, they cried, they loved to dance and sing, to hug their children and to eat cake. They enjoyed a Sunday picnic and loved Christmas or Passover. And they all had every shred of personal  dignity  ripped unmercifully from their very existence.  Their crime, in the case of the Ulmas, loving their neighbor through Christ; in the case of the Szall family and Goldman children, being the Jewish neighbors that were loved.  To understand this heinous behavior by people against people is so hard to do. I can only surmise that it must be hatred of God Himself and, since  the God haters cannot see or touch Him, they hate and defile those that love Him.

We here in the United States have been blessed with religious freedom. It is under serious attack by those who would eliminate God from our society. They do this by using the very freedom this nation affords them. They must turn to history to see what has happened in non-God societies.  We can see the beginnings of serious Christian persecution right here in America.  I hope and pray that there is not a future Ulma family somewhere within our borders. We must always remember how blessed we are to live in this country with the freedoms it provides.  Freedoms worth dying for.  Especially our first freedom, Freedom of Religion.

Post Script: Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma were declared Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1995 and their cause for Beatification  was presented to Rome by the  Catholic Church of Poland in 2003.

March 27, 2014

Computers Do NOT Apologize

by Larry Peterson

Bear with me please, it has been a whacky week and this post might seem to be a bit disconnected at times. It is definitely too long.  That simply reflects my state of mind since last Friday.  I was sitting in front of that all familiar "liquidy" screen,  you know, the thing that looks like glass but it is soft and almost mushy and  ripples when you touch it.  I don't know about you but when I clean it I have this insane fear that the thing is about to suck me right inside of it just like the TV did to little Carole Ann in the movie, Poltergeist.  Sorry, to the point.  I decided to click on the link to my book located in the sidebar of my blogsite.  Anyway, a cyber window pops up and says "this book is no longer available."  I say to the screen,  "Duh, it is SO available."  The screen does not answer. As does the person who keeps pushing the elevator button that has already been pushed,  I keep clicking the cyber button with my mouse.  The screen has no sense of humor and keeps giving me the same answer, word for word, over and over.  I did not yell or throw anything or use one four letter expletive.  I just sighed and surrendered.  A moment passed and I breathed in deeply and began to investigate.

I have two books that have been published.  To show you how well they have sold I quickly found out that my publisher is going out of business.  Ah yes,  logic had poked its head  into the day and let me know there was a valid reason for the books being unavailable.  I looked  at the clock and it was now 5 p.m.  As we do every year during Lent, a group of us meet, go to the fish fry and then to Stations of the Cross (a Catholic devotion held  during Lent in most Catholic parishes) at 6:30 p.m.  Saturday would come soon enough and I could begin to figure out what to do about the books.  I powered down my personal cyber world.  It probably needed some downtime anyway.

Saturday morning arrived as expected and I hit the button to awaken cyber world. A few lights began to blink (these things have trouble waking up too) and then the rippling screen sang a brief tune and lit up.  Icons flashed into place and my cyber world was ready for its master to give it orders. I obliged and clicked my Microsoft Outlook icon to open my email.  Ta-dah---it opened and a little window popped up saying ERROR!  It even had a lock and key in the corner.  I did not flinch.  I exited and reentered.  ERROR!  Uh,oh, repeat ---ERROR!   Something is awry.

My email address was with Verizon.  Let me call them and---no, wait a minute, I can call Live-Technician.  I have them available if I have a problem.  They are great.  If your computer goes haywire they can fix it even if they are in India, Canada, Mexico or on the Moon itself.  I call and just like that I have a real, live person I am talking to.  When does that happen anymore?   His name is "Harry" and Harry takes charge (with my permission) of my computer.  I sit and watch the cursor fly all over the screen this way and that , hither and yon, and then it stops.  Harry says, "I must contact Verizon."  I watch and on the screen a live-chat begins to take place between Harry in India and Rose in China.  I am in Florida, USA.  Why worry about world peace when right before my eyes worldwide cooperation is happening.  I momentarily felt uplifted.  Okay now, it is time for the summation to this  gentle diatribe (wow,  an unintended oxymoron).

It took Harry and some of his buddies, David and Emmanuel, to finally find out from Rose and her friends in varied locations that Verizon, had in fact, terminated my email account.  I have had the same Verizon address for 13 years.  I had cancelled it in January of 2013 and was told I could keep using the address. Okay, I am an idiot. I believed them.  It was fine for almost 15 months and then the "computer" disconnected it.  No one, anywhere in the whole world, could do a thing about it.  After six hours of my life being hijacked,  I was compensated by receiving  apologies from almost every corner of planet Earth.  WOW!!  A world-wide apology to little old insignificant me. It does not get much better than that.  (The computer offered NO apology).

It is now seven days later.  My books have been resurrected and new options await.  I have a new gmail address that is working fine. I did lose a bunch of addresses but--they will eventually come back one way or another.   April is almost here and I am starting to smell the roses.

March 21, 2014

The Amazing Story of the Nativity Stones

review by Larry Peterson
Nativity Stone set in Gold Cross

To the right you see a picture of a gold filled cross and in the center of the cross you will notice a white stone.  Let me share with you about that stone.  It comes from the Manger Room of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  Yes, the stone is from the exact spot in the manger where Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God,  was born on the First Christmas over 2000 years ago.  This is true and has been documented and confirmed by the Vatican.

Back in 1963 philanthropist and archaeologist, Stanley Slotkin, was visiting the Cave of the Nativity and noticed a portion of the inside wall being removed.  His host, the mayor of Bethlehem, explained to him that the site was being expanded to make another exit so as to accommodate the thousands of visitors that came every year.  Slotkin asked for permission to have the excavated stones shipped to him in America and they were.  He began making crosses, each holding a precious Nativity Stone. These crosses he gave away to many charities and to the terminally ill providing comfort and peace to many while reinforcing their faith in Jesus.

It is important to remember that these stones are from the EXACT spot where Jesus was born.  The Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian Church in the world.  Early Christians worshipped at this exact site soon after Christ's death and resurrection.  In 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine officially recognized this site as the true birthplace of Christ.  Imagine having an actual Nativity Stone that was there when Our Blessed Mother gave birth to our Saviour while St. Joseph stood by caring for and protecting them.

Recently, at his request, Slotkin's family made Nativity Stones available for a wider audience.  Jewelry was created that contained Nativity Stones. This jewelry is now available to everyone while supplies last.  Each cross comes in a case with  its own numbered Certification of Authenticity.  It makes a magnificent gift and will become a treasured keepsake to all who are able to acquire one.  For further information go to the link below. For visiting this blog you are eligible to use coupon code  "Honored15"  when ordering.  Just type it in the code box at checkout.


 http://www.nativitystonescollection.com/   
 Origins of the Nativity Stones                                                                                                                                  

March 16, 2014

Honoring The "Shadow Saint"; Joseph of Nazareth

by Larry Peterson

March 19 is the day we honor St. Joseph.  I think we should give him the whole month of March.  I love this man.   I will run this (and nothing else) starting today  March 16, through Friday, March 21.

I call Joseph of Nazareth the “Shadow Saint” because, even though he was responsible for being foster-father to the God-man and husband to the God-man’s mom, the Blessed Virgin, his own life was so quiet and unknown.  He had to shelter them, protect them, feed them, provide for them.  He married Mary (who was a teenager) while the cloud of “adultery” (a sin punishable by death) hung over her head.  Imagine how incredibly difficult this must have been for him, a “righteous Jew” who followed the law and found himself betrothed to a pregnant woman who was not carrying his child.  He must have loved Mary so much and had such great faith.
Then he managed to take her to Bethlehem for the census when she was almost full term.  If that were I,  I would have been sick to my stomach the whole way, wondering if my wife could make it and if the child would survive.  This was an 80-mile trip over rocky and dusty roads and Mary had to ride a donkey.  Then, after the baby is born in a dingy stable with smelly animals, he had to hide his wife and Son and run from the maniacal Herod, who wanted the child dead and had ordered his soldiers to find Him so they could kill Him. Imagine the fear and anxiety as you try to avoid detection.  Feel your heart pounding faster and faster at the sound of every hoofbeat or snapping branch.  I cannot imagine.  Joseph must have had incredible courage.
Back in Nazareth he raised his Boy as any loving and caring father would.  He aided the Boy when he took his first steps, held Him on his lap when he scraped his knee causing it to bleed, showed Him how to eat, taught Him how to pray, read the scriptures to Him and tucked Him into bed at night.  No-one ever in the history of the world has ever been entrusted with such incredible responsibility.  No one in the history of the world could tell Jesus, the God-man, when to go to bed or when to wash His hands for supper or “not to interrupt” if mom or dad was speaking.  Yet, we know so little about this just and holy man.  What we do know is he saved the Son of God who, in turn, lived long enough to save us all.  Oh yeah, he also was married to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He loved her with all of his heart, took care of her, and protected her against all dangers.  There is a love story for you.
There are no writings left behind by Joseph.  There are no words that were spoken by him that were ever recorded.  We have no idea as to what he might have even looked like.  None of that matters, because we do know he was there when God needed him to be there.  Last year Pope Francis picked St. Joseph’s Feast Day day to be installed as Pope.  This was no coincidence I am sure.  Joseph is considered the Protector of the Universal Church.  He is also the patron saint of fathers and families.  Next to his wife, he is the greatest of all other saints.  Just remember that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, called him, and only him, “dad”. And maybe (I like to think this) the Blessed Mother called him “sweetie” or “hon”.
Hey guys, imagine this. You get up in the morning and your wife says to you, “Good morning sweetie, want some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast?”  You turn and look and the Blessed Virgin Mary is standing there in a housecoat holding two eggs in her hand.  That would have happened to only one man in all of history and his name was Joseph.  No one, anywhere, ever, was afforded such an honor. No one.
HAPPY FEAST DAY ST.JOSEPH.  Thanks for being there for your Boy, your wife, and for all of us.

March 13, 2014

Secularism's Optimal Success Story; The Legalization of Child Euthanasia

by Larry Peterson

The plague of secularism that has engulfed the entire world has possibly reached its optimal success. The highly civilized country of Belgium passed a law last month allowing children to choose to euthanize themselves; however, it did not become official until last week.  That is when the final seal of approval was placed on this bill by none other than King Philippe himself.  Yes, the Roman Catholic King of Belgium, Philippe Louis Leopold Marie,  signed the bill making it official.  Belgian children can kill themselves if they have "good reason".  (They also need a physician, a psychologist, and the parent(s) to approve their request).

I am also a Roman Catholic.  I know many people who are, Roman Catholics . You know what?   Ironically, much of the anti-Catholic sentiment comes from those who say they are Catholic.  Many approve of abortion, contraception and  gay marriage.  Heck, Belgium is a 75% Catholic country and they voted by a 2 to 1 majority for the Child Euthanasia Law.  But you cannot pick & choose what parts of the faith you like and do not like, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life.

 It is NOT easy being Catholic and God knows that. So all He asks us to do is try, try every day.  We Catholics have confession for a good reason and that is because we are always messing up.  But then you have the secularized Catholics, an oxymoron if ever there was one.  You cannot truly "love your neighbor" if you, conditions permitting, would sanction death whether through abortion or euthanasia.  The sanctity of life is God-given.  God has the power to give life and to take life.  Whenever did so many of our species get so smart that laws were enacted  giving people  the individual "right" to end the God-given life of someone else?  This, my friends, is an abomination of the Natural Law which was established by God and is "naturally" ingrained in each of us.  We instinctively know what is right and what is wrong.  C'mon, you know you do. But how many of us go against the Natural Law because we have been desensitized to the point that we delude ourselves into  thinking  something 'unnatural' is okay because it has been legalized.  Adhering to Natural Law often times involves self-denial.   However, secularism is the twisted religion of self-gratification. To hell with self-denial.

Jesus and the Little Children
There are many high profile secularized folks who also call themselves Catholics.  Let us start with King Philippe of Belgium.  He calls himself a Catholic but signs a law allowing children to kill themselves. Sorry King, you cannot have it both ways and you are supposed to set example.  The church you belong to rejects euthanasia as intrinsically evil.  You, therefore, have rejected Catholicism. You are a secularist and so are all those who helped pass the bill that you signed.  End of story.

The State of Oregon passed the "Death with Dignity" Act in 1997.  Washington, Montana and Vermont  have also passed Euthanasia laws.  Belgium passed their euthanasia law in 2002,  the second highly civilized nation to do so (The Netherlands was first).  In 2011, 1133 cases of euthanasia were reported in Belgium. In 2012, 1432. That figure represents 2% of all deaths in that country.  Statistics show that the suicide rate of those who have undergone sex change surgery is as high as 31%. Why such despair?  Why such hopelessness?  I say it is because many have the misguided and illogical notion that our happiness depends on "things".  Good health, money, position and  material goods have become the god that never satisfies. Worshipping those things are the violation of the very First Commandment. Secularism honors the god of hopelessness and despair. The God of mercy and love has been rejected for a false god.  And, after all those self-inflicted deaths, they pass a euthanasia law for children.  How sad this is.

King Philippe is one of many highly placed people who have embraced secularism and then pretend that they are being virtuous by giving approval to all things for all people.  Legalization of drugs, of abortion, of euthanasia, of same-sex marriage are all the result of a civilized society that has deluded itself into a false happiness.  This false happiness is never attained and ultimately leads people off a cliff into a sea of misery. Those that might have the "temerity" to say "NO" are branded as intolerant.  At least those folks can still sport a truthful smile even though it might have cost them defilement and persecution to keep it.
                                                                                                   

March 8, 2014

Book Review: AMERICAN SAINT; The Life of Elizabeth Seton by Joan Barthel

Book Review
17934383
by Larry Peterson

AMERICAN SAINT
The Life of Elizabeth Seton

by Joan Barthel

Published by;
Thomas Dunne Books
 St. Martin's Press; New York

Copyright 2014;  Joan Barthel

www.thomasdunnebooks.com
www.stmartins.com
www.joanbarthel.com

First Edition: March, 2014
_______________________________________

Wow! Reading this book was quite the experience.

At first I was a bit put off by the introduction because it was immediately referencing an out-of-context quote from "Father" Joseph Ratzinger from almost 50 years ago during the Second Vatican Council.  It was how he suggested obeying conscience before ecclesiastical authority.  Then it  jumped to a Pope Benedict XVI (the former Joseph Ratzinger) cracking down on American nuns who were obeying their consciences.  We get to all of 100 words and we are reading about the Vatican accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of "promoting radical feminism".  Wait a minute--this is supposed to be about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, not feminism and women's rights.  My antennae were extended. I took a deep breath and plodded on.

Whew--thank God I did because when you read this book you quickly learn that Elizabeth's agenda was always God-centered.  Her personal relationship with Him defined her.  He was the source of her strength and courage as she lived her amazing life.  If she succeeded in making women proud it was because she strived to make God proud first. This is very important for all to remember when thinking of this woman.

Joan Barthel manages to take us on a fabulous journey  through the life of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born Catholic saint.  She manages to do this by pouring over more than three thousand pages of Elizabeth Bayley Seton: Collected Writings and filling her narrative with the words of St. Elizabeth herself. There are excerpts from letters to her husband, her children, her siblings, her spiritual advisors and others. The ten-year effort Ms. Barthel has put forth is truly remarkable and the result is worth the time spent reading to the end. This was not a "quick" read for me but the time spent with St. Elizabeth and her words, written in the English language of two hundred years ago, was worth every second.

The meandering journey through this book begins as Elizabeth wakes to the ringing of church bells. She is in a Lazaretto in Leghorn, Italy, having just arrived from America after a seven week journey. The year is 1803. Due to an outbreak of yellow fever Elizabeth, her husband, Will, and their daughter, Anna, had been quarantined and would not get out of the cold, dank room for weeks.  The irony was that Elizabeth had brought Will to Italy to help his tuberculosis, not make it worse.  From this point we skip back in time to New York City in 1767, meet Elizabeth's parents, Dr. Richard Bayley and his wife Catherine.  We read that Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born on Aug 28, 1774.  The family connections become very pronounced and complex as we move forward but suffice it to say it was a large, extended family and I had a bit of a time keeping track of all the members in it.  Onward to the life of this amazing woman.

Elizabeth  felt a closeness to God from when she was a child although she did not understand it.  At the age of 19 she married William Seton, a successful importer.  Socially prominent, she was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and came under the influence of Reverend Henry Hobart, a no-nonsense Calvinist who despised Catholicism.  Hobart had a profound effect on Elizabeth and when she announced to him her decision to become a Catholic he was horrified.  He told her that she was jeopardizing her very chance of salvation.   "When I see a person whose sincere and ardent piety I have always thought worthy of imitation in danger of connecting with a communion which my sober judgment tells me is a corrupt and sinful communion, I cannot be otherwise than deeply affected."  (Nowadays someone would simply say, "I'm very disappointed in you.")

Elizabeth waivered. She was at a crossroads. Hobart was her mentor, spiritual director and a dear friend. She trusted him enough that she had asked him to take her sons if something ever happened to her. Protestant Episcopal or Catholicism, what should she do?  I leave it to you, the reader, to filter through the turmoil and doubt that filled Elizabeth Seton as she pondered her conversion.  It is a magnificent journey that took a little over three years from when she first entered a Catholic Church in Italy to when she received her First Holy Communion.  Her conversion brought her rejection by her family and friends and left her in a state of  poverty.  But her new found faith  filled her with a steely resolve.  Her love for Christ in the Eucharist and being able to attend Mass every day, receiving Him within her very self,  filled her with  a love of God that few people ever attain.

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton died at the age of 46.  She had been a Protestant and a convert to Catholicism. She had been rich, she had been poor, she was among the socially prominent, she was an outcast, a wife, a mother (who worked and saw three of her five children die).  She was a widow, a teacher, a social worker, a nurse, the founder of the first active order of women religious in the United States known as the Sisters of Charity, and she started the first free Catholic school in America.  Quite a journey for a girl that danced at George Washington's 65th birthday party and ultimately was canonized in Rome by Pope Paul VI as the first American-born saint.

From the pen of St. Elizabeth Seton written on a fragment of paper; "Eternity---in what light shall we view it? What shall we think of the trials and cares, pains and sorrows we once had upon earth?  Oh! When a mere nothing!  Let then they who weep be as though they wept not; thought who obtain as though they possess not.  The world passes away.  ETERNITY!  That voice to be everywhere understood.  ETERNITY!"  (I had to read this a few times before the beauty of it impacted me)

St. Elizabeth Seton; a mother, a wife, a Catholic saint and an American woman who should be honored and respected by all. Do yourself a favor--Get this book, take your time and let her words draw you in.
Nicely done. Joan Barthel, nicely done.


February 26, 2014

"Good Father Gus"--a Little Known Member of the Catholic Hall of Fame

by Larry Peterson

From the Catholic Hall of Fame:  Meet Servant of God; Father John Augustus Tolton.  (I consider Catholic saints and those being considered for sainthood as members of the Catholic Hall of Fame. That is strictly my designation because they are the best of the best and we Catholics honor them and try to follow their example.)
_________________________________________________________

On April 1, 1854, Peter Tolton paced nearby as his wife, Martha Jane, gave birth to their son and named him Augustus. Augustus (named after his uncle) was baptized in St. Peter's Catholic Church in Brush Creek, Missouri.  Mrs. Savilla Elliot stood as Augusta's godmother.  This was a situation a bit out of the norm, especially for this time in history.  Mrs. Elliot was married to Stephen Elliot who happened to be the "owners" of  Augustus' dad and mom.  The Tolton family were slaves and their three children, Charley, Augustus and Anne, were born into slavery...slave owners and their slaves, all Catholic. It was a unique situation especially in the mostly Protestant south.

There are varied debates about how the Toltons gained their freedom. The most common story has it that Peter Tolton ran away and joined the Union Army.  Then,  when the Civil War began, Stephen Elliot gave Martha and her children their freedom.  They headed north and, with the help of Union soldiers, crossed the Mississippi River and entered  Illinois which was a 'free' state.  They all got jobs at the Herris Tobacco Company which made cigars.  Then Charley died and along came Father Peter McGirr, an Irish American priest and pastor of St. Peter's Catholic Church in Quincy, Ill.  Augustus Tolton's life was about to change.

Father McGirr had noticed a shabbily dressed African-American boy standing across the street from the church. After three days he went and spoke to the boy. He asked him if he would like to attend school. Augustus answered "YES!" This decision by Father McGirr was quite controversial as most parishioners did not want a black student being taught along with their kids.  Father McGirr held firm and insisted that Augustus study there.  The young man even began studying with some priests.

Father McGirr had seen  something in young Augustus that others did not see. Within a month the boy had advanced to 'second reader' and Father asked him if he would like to receive his first Holy Communion. By summer Augustus was the altar boy for the 5 a.m. Mass.  Then Father McGirr asked the young man if he would like to become a priest. He told him it would take about 12 years of hard study and dedication. Augustus said, "Let us go to the church and pray for my success."

After graduating and with the unwavering support of Father McGirr, Augustus attempted to get into a seminary. He was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied. Undaunted, Father McGirr helped young Tolton gain admission to St. Francis Solanus College (now Quincy College) in Quincy, Ill. Upon graduating he was accepted into the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. Founded by Pope Urban VIII in the 17th century, this was a training ground for missionaries. Here Augustus Tolton became fluent in Italian as well as studying Greek and Latin. In 1886, at the age of 32, Augustus Tolton was ordained to the priesthood in Rome. He was the first black Roman Catholic priest in the United States.

Newspapers across the country told the story of the former slave now ordained as a catholic priest.  When Father Tolton arrived back in Quincy he was greeted as a hero. Thousands greeted him and a brass band played and negro spirituals were sung.  People, black and white, lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the new priest dressed in black cassock and wearing the biretta. When Father Tolton arrived at St. Boniface Church hundreds were waiting inside wanting to receive his blessing. His first blessing went to Father McGirr who was by his side. The next day father offered his first Mass and the church was packed while literally thousands of people stood outside. For the moment prejudices were replaced with  love of God.
Servant of God; Father Augustus Tolton

 Father Tolton remained at St. Boniface's for five years.  He met with stiff resistance from white Catholics and Protestant blacks when he tried to start a black parish.   When he managed to start St. Joseph Parish in Quincy the new "dean" of the parish demanded that he turn all white worshipers away. Father Tolton refused and prayed and persevered,  never losing faith.

Father Tolton was transferred to Chicago in 1892 and headed a mission group that met in the basement of St. Mary's Church. This led to him developing the Negro National Parish of St. Monica's Catholic Church. He was such a kind, caring man that he came to be known as "Good Father Gus".The church grew quickly and soon had over 600 parishioners.  Father Tolton was looking forward to having construction at St. Monica's completed so it would be a source of pride for its parishioners.  He would not live to see it. On a steaming July day in 1897, with the temperature at 105 degrees, Father Tolton was returning from a retreat in Bourbonnais, Ill.  When he stepped from the train he collapsed.  He died in the hospital a few hours later from sunstroke. He was 43 years old.  Apparently he had been ill for sometime and had never said anything to anyone.  The heat wave did him in. His community was shocked and stunned. They had lost a dear friend. Father Tolton is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery near Quincy, Ill.

On March 2, 2010, Cardinal George of Chicago, announced that he was beginning the cause for canonization for Father Tolton. On February 24, 2011, the Catholic Church officially began the formal introduction of the cause for sainthood. Father Augustus Tolton is now designated  officially as Servant of God.  We might ask Father Tolton's intercession to help us with our own individual prejudices.

February 19, 2014

The Perversion of "Love & Kindness"; Belgium OKs Euthanasia for Children;

by Larry Peterson

Three months ago  the civilized, highly sophisticated nation of Belgium looked on as  the collective wisdom of the upscale Belgium Social Justice Committee coagulated into making a recommendation to Parliament that they should approve a bill which would legalize euthanasia for children.  Well now, what do you know?   Belgium's lawmakers heeded the advice and OVERWHELMINGLY voted to extend the country's euthanasia law to children under 18 (they have had the law in place for adults since 2002) .  They passed this bill on February 13th. The nation awoke on the morning of Valentine's Day ready and willing to enjoy the holiday sharing love with each other. But this Valentine's Day came with a new twist.  They found out that once King Phillippe signed the bill just passed kids can willingly, surrounded by a LOVING support group which will include parents, doctor and shrink, "happily and mercifully" kill themselves.

How loving, how compassionate, how civilized so many people have become.  There is wide public support from the Belgian people (unbelievably predominantly catholic) for this bill  which passed  by a 2 to 1 majority. Socialist, Hans Bonte, said, "all Belgians, including MINORS, deserved the right to bid farewell to life in humane circumstances without  having to fear they were breaking the law".  Heaven forbid, can you imagine a seriously ill child dealing with the added burden of fearing they might also break a  law?  Are you kidding me?  One independent House member, Laurent Louis, stood up and said that the majority of his colleagues were violating the natural order.  "A child is to be nurtured and protected, all the way to the end, whatever happens. You do not kill it."  He was mocked.

The Catholic Church and the Belgian clergy are vehemently opposed and have been right along. But they  are  those "old, out of touch, church leaders telling people what they should and should not do.  Well , God bless them.  Those "old fools" are standing tall in the face of an evil that has embraced a once beautiful country which has now turned ugly wrapped in a shroud of secularism.   Belgian law now allows for the killing of sick children .  How have so many  been able to advance into the meistic, secular world of the 21st century where deciding who should live and die  is the preferred  virtue of goodness. When did the folks who are "stuck"  in the conscience driven world  of God first, followed by family and country and who defend ALL life, get relegated to the ranks of the "ungood"?

The Catholic Church is not in a popularity contest with the secular world.  It is also not in a popularity contest with those who proclaim to be Catholic yet defy the church's teachings.  The Church is the way to the Truth and it is defending and protecting the faith it was created to defend.  It defends the right to life of all,  from the unborn to the sick, disabled, deformed, mentally challenged, elderly and those simply unwanted. It is standing tall in Belgium and saying, "NO!" to this abomination.  At what point in time did secular mankind decide that it could "kill" as an act of love?  Is it because "love" is all about kindness and virtue and they were the ones who embraced it? How sanitized yet preposterous is that? No, the "love" of the secular world is about self-love before all else. People know best and those in power are omniscient.

How sad this all is that  folks who respect the very dignity,  beauty and miraculous creation of each life have suddenly been "flipped" into the category of "heartless and cruel" by a secular world that defiles all those who might dare disagree with it?  Tear down the crosses, ban the name of God, ridicule the churches and their priests and nuns. This hypocrisy is not "love" but rather, "anti-love".  Don't these people understand the dark underbelly of this entire concept?  Apparently, they do not.  But they have chosen to take the road of personal gratification deifying their own selves. And that is what happens when God is removed from the equation of life...you come to believe you have the right to kill children. How did we ever become so civilized?

February 13, 2014

On Valentine's Day a War on LOVE is Raging

by Larry Peterson

 Valentine's Day is here.  It is supposed to be all about Love. Yet beyond the heart covered Valentine cards, the flower bouquets and candy and all of that, we must, as unpleasant as it may be, recognize what we truly have going on this Valentine's Day of 2014.  Yes, make no mistake, Love is under attack this Valentine's Day and the war is brutal and bloody.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA/EWTN Newsreported today that Christians are the most persecuted people on earth.  Why is that?  Why is there such hatred by so many toward something that is all about goodness and love?  The word "CHRISTIAN" comes from the name of Christ, Jesus Christ.  Okay, is that a BAD thing? I don't think so.

All Christians  (including 1.2 billion Catholics and 800 million Protestants  of varied denominations) follow Jesus Christ. That is 2 billion people or two thousand million people who follow His teachings and His promise of Eternal Life. What is the crux of His teachings? Well now, the bottom line is this, LOVE your NEIGHBOR & FORGIVENESS. Yeah, yeah, I know that many who proclaim to follow Jesus  do not even make an attempt to Love their Neighbor or Forgive anyone for anything. They let that old, deadly sin of pride rule their roost. Oh well, it is part of God's gift of free-will allowing each and every one of us to make choices. However, the vast majority of Catholic/Christians do their feeble best  to follow His message.  For those that do it is a life-long work in progress and this was true even for the saints.

So, why the hatred? Why the persecution?  Why were more than 100,000 followers of Christ murdered in the past year alone?   The problem is the aforementioned  deadly sin of pride.  Why?  Because pride has filled the hearts of many and these are the people who now HATE. What they hate most is one word which is made up of  only two letters. That  word is NO. They want no-one dare telling them what to do or how to behave. They have embraced secularism (defined as: a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship). Christianity establishes boundaries.  Christianity tells us what God wants us to do and what NOT to do...why, the NERVE of Him!  So, many Secularists (not all) take it to another level in their personal, selfish requests to abolish the influence of institutions that have the temerity to say NO to certain behaviors. They even reject "natural law" for their own personal agendas.

They rant against Christmas which is all about "giving". They rail on about using the name of God in schools and at sports events. They want Crosses at cemeteries taken down from the graves of fallen soldiers. In many cases those who hate Christians kill them. Men, women and children die every day in different parts of the world simply because they are followers of Jesus. How can  Love & Forgiveness be things to hate?

Well, nothing has changed since Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago.  He preached Love & Forgiveness so they beat  Him, tortured Him and killed Him.  The loving crowds who screamed "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday turned fickle and screamed "Crucify Him" the following Friday.  The list of  people murdered for following Jesus over the centuries (including his own apostles) is countless. Being a Catholic and Christian was never supposed to be easy.  Jesus Christ did nothing but Love us, each and every one of us. Look what happened to Him.

So, on this Valentine's Day, the question to be considered might be this. What is Love? The answer can be found in the Bible in the First Letter of John; Ch 4: 16-17.  "We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us. God IS Love, and whoever remains in Love remains in God and God in Him. 
Sadly today, February 14, 2014, the war on Love increases in intensity.